Today’s post is a collaboration between Beena Sharma and Susanne Cook-Greuter, Co-founders of the Center for Leadership Maturity with Maureen Metcalf. This post is a companion to the VoiceAmerica ‘Innovative Leaders Driving Thriving Organizations‘ Interview between Maureen and Beena on September 22, 2015.

Your level of Leadership Maturity significantly influences your capacity to deal with life and work situations, how you see your role and function in the workplace, how you interact with other people, how you solve problems and how self-aware you are. Leaders develop through various stages of maturity as they grow. Leadership Maturity is about how leaders ‘make meaning’ or sense and interpret experiences at the different stages of development. This is important because the perspectives you use to make sense of the world influences your thoughts and actions. Incorporating the idea of the various stages of your own Maturity is critical to innovating your leadership. The author Jim Collins referred to Level 5 Leadership in his best-selling business book, Good to Great. Level 5 Leadership is an example of later stage leadership maturity described in the innovative leadership framework.

One application of using the stages of maturity model is to appreciate ‘fit for role’ in organizations. For example, at the ‘Specialist’ level, a leader may perform a process task well and be procedural. A later stage leader (at the Relative level) who is more mature, would be better at handling more complex situations, including those situations not generally addressed by the rules, and would be better able to take into account the context of the task and adapt when needed.

Another application of this framework is to create a development plan for leaders that is well suited to the level of development they are at, and what would be next for them in their path to maturity.

It is important to note that all stages of maturity bring their strengths and wisdom to an organization, and an optimum mix of levels makes an organization more effective and successful.

Benefits of using this model of Leadership Maturity include:

1. Guiding leaders in determining their personal development goals and action plans using developmental perspectives Determining optimum fit for individuals and team members in the context of specific roles in a particular organization
2. Identifying high-potential leaders to groom for growth opportunities.
3. Determining individual fit for a specific job or role in the recruitment and succession process.
4. Supporting change agents in understand the perspectives and capacities of others at different stages and tailoring solutions that meet the needs and perspectives of all stakeholders.

Metcalf & Associates uses the Maturity Assessment Profile (MAP) and its conceptual framework, the Leadership Maturity Framework (LMF) in assessing Leadership Maturity. This was researched and validated (with criteria at later stages of development) by Susanne Cook-Greuter as part of her doctoral dissertation at Harvard University. This instrument is the most rigorously developed, Harvard-tested, unbiased and reliable perspective measure on the market globally today. The MAP provides unique and personal feedback in addition to stage description and score. The MAP is also the most sophisticated instrument for identifying and measuring later stage, developmentally advanced leadership. The MAP evaluates three primary dimensions to determine developmental perspective: cognitive complexity, emotional capacity and behavior.

The table on the blog shows details about the specific levels. It briefly summarizes the levels, and the percentage of the sample population at each level using a sample size of 4,310 people. The name of each stage also indicates the old name (previously used terms) in parenthesis.

The Center for Leadership Maturity continues to evolve this model and the development tools for its application. The new name change is evidence of this evolution. Specifically, it is important to note that while we refer to people being “at a level”, people actually demonstrate perspectives across a range of levels, while evidencing a ‘center of gravity’ at the stage that they generally tend to operate from.

As you listen to the interview, and as you read the descriptions of the various stages that follow, we encourage you to reflect: what level seems to you closest to how you operate? How does that level fit with your job requirements and professional context? What range do you test across? How does your score map to your current job requirements? What additional perspectives might you want to develop if you aspire to Learn and grow into the next role in your career?

To become a more innovative leader, please consider our online leader development program. For additional tools, we recommend taking leadership assessments, using the Innovative Leadership Fieldbook and Innovative Leaders Guide to Transforming Organizations, and adding coaching to our online innovative leadership program. We also offer several workshops to help you build these skills.


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